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What is the Difference Between an Ethernet Cable and a Network Patch Cable?

Learn the Difference Between an Ethernet Cable and a Network Patch Cable.

All network patch cables are ethernet cables, but not all ethernet cables are network patch cables.

by Vikas Dayal • May 12, 2023

Network Patch Cables, Cat5e / Cat6 Cables


You've probably heard these terms used interchangeably in the past, but you might be surprised to learn that ethernet cables and network patch cables are not the same thing. Ethernet is a protocol that describes how information travels through a cable, which means that ethernet cables are simply wires that comply with ethernet protocols. These cables are made of copper or optical fiber, usually with a PVC jacket. Patch cables are simply ethernet cables which have connectors at both ends. Learn more about the difference at Cables.com!

Ethernet vs. Network Patch Cables

How do you tell the difference between an ethernet cable and a network patch cable? You've probably heard these terms before, and they're often incorrectly used interchangeably. But they are, in fact, different kinds of cables, in a matter of speaking. Let's put it simply: all network patch cables are ethernet cables, but not all ethernet cables are network patch cables. The term "ethernet" refers not to the type of cable, but to a protocol that describes how information travels through a cable - so in short, ethernet cables are simply cables through which ethernet protocols travel. Patch cables, on the other hand, are specifically ethernet cables which have connectors at both ends. They're generally used for short-distance connections like those you might find in a home or office. But an ethernet network cable can be utilized for connecting a device to a network hub, or an ethernet switch. These larger networks with many devices, switches, routers, and “patch panels” will use both long ethernet cables and shorter patch cables. Patch panels are a sort of network switchboard, with lots of ports for connecting devices to a network. These panels make it much easier to switch out or reconfigure certain devices without disturbing others.

Network Cables at Cables.com

Cables.com stocks a variety of network patch cables. Our Cat6 network patch cables can be ordered in a number of lengths and colors. This 550Mhz RJ45 Category 6 network patch cable is made with pure copper wire and 50 micron gold connectors as well as a sturdy PVC jacket. 

Cat5 550Mhz network patch cable - shop cables.com.

In addition to our standard network patch cables, we also offer shielded plenum cables. Plenum cables are cables that are meant to be installed in plenum spaces, little seen or accessed spaces like those in crawlspaces or between walls. These Category 6 plenum patch cables are shielded to prevent EMI, or electromagnetic interference, adhering to quality protocols to ensure that your connection remains strong and reliable. 

Ethernet Cables at Cables.com

Ethernet patch cables connect two different types of devices, like a router to a computer or a modem to a router. We carry a variety of ethernet cables including our Cat6 and Cat6A ethernet cables, the current industry standard. These Cat6 ethernet cables feature snagless boots, which will ensure a secure fit between your devices. 

Category6 ethernet cable - shop cables.com.

We also carry Category 6 30awg ethernet cables with slim jackets, which come with a clear boot that allows you to keep your data center or home network operating at maximum speed and performance. 

Still looking?

Haven't found the right ethernet or network patch cable for you? We want to make sure we can provide for your every cable need! Our high-quality, competitively priced cables can be ordered in custom colors and configurations based off of your particular needs. If you have questions about ordering from Cables.com, we'd like to hear from you. Contact us using our webform, or send us an email at sales@cables.com. We look forward to working with you!

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